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President Zuma urges South Africans to take up Mandela's mantle

Published on Dec 15, 2013 5:43 PM
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South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday told a country mourning for its founding father Nelson Mandela that it was incumbent on them to carry on his legacy. -- PHOTO: AFP

QUNU, South Africa (AFP) - South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday told a country mourning for its founding father Nelson Mandela that it was incumbent on them to carry on his legacy.

"We have to take the legacy forward," Mr Zuma said in an address to Mr Mandela's state funeral in the former leader's boyhood home of Qunu.

"As your journey ends today ours must continue in earnest.

"One thing we can assure you of today Tata (father), as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise.

"South Africa will continue to rise because we dare not fail you," Mr Zuma said.

Mr Mandela's passing comes at a difficult time in the life of this young nation forged from his ideals of non-racialism, democracy and equality.

President Zuma's government - mired in allegations of mismanagement and corruption - has been pilloried for not living up to Mandela's standards.

An opinion poll published hours before the funeral showed 51 percent of registered voters of the ruling African National Congress want Mr Zuma to resign.

On Tuesday, South Africans booed Mr Zuma at Mr Mandela's memorial service.

During Sunday's ceremony Mr Zuma attempted to channel the spirit of hope Mr Mandela engendered.

"Thank you for being everything we wanted and needed in a leader in a difficult period in our life," he said.

"We pledge today to continue promoting non racialism and tolerance in our country and to build a south Africa that truly belongs to all.

"You were indeed an extraordinary human being you will remain our guiding light, illuminating the path as we continue the long journey to build the South Africa of your dreams," he said.